The New York Mets had quite the season in 2022. With Edwin Diaz dominating the ninth inning to trumpets blaring, Pete Alonso hitting 40 home runs, and Francisco Lindor performing well at short, everything was clicking. New York finished the regular season with 101 wins but lost the division in the final week and fell to the San Diego Padres in the first round of the playoffs.
Owner Steve Cohen was ready to spend, and with the loss of star pitcher Jacob deGrom in free agency, Cohen delivered. The billionaire owner inked 2022 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to a short-term deal. The Mets almost signed star shortstop Carlos Correa, but that deal fell through due to issues with his physical. The Mets playoff hopes (and odds) were still high, but that was not the only bad news the Mets would receive before Opening Day.
The Trumpets Silenced Early in 2023
On March 15, not even a month before the 2023 MLB season, Edwin Diaz tore his ACL in the World Baseball Classic. This means that Diaz is likely to miss the entire season. New York entered 2023 down its closer and a new 40-year-old ace in Verlander.
The Mets have had a season that has fallen below expectations in 2023. Pete Alonso has 26 home runs and is an All-Star but spent time on the injured list and is only hitting .211. Meanwhile, Verlander and pitcher Max Scherzer have performed below their expectations. On the other hand, catcher Francisco Alvarez has emerged as a true threat for the Mets.
Even with the highs and the lows, New York finds itself with a 42-48 record at the All-Star break, which is good for fourth in the NL East. The Mets are seven games back from a wild card spot. DraftKings has the Mets playoff odds at +360. Before the season started, their odds to win the World Series weren’t much longer. Here is why or why not New York will be playing baseball in October.
Why the Mets Will Beat the Odds and Make the Playoffs
Baseball is all about peaking at the right time. It’s all about hot streaks and cold streaks. New York entered the All-Star break riding high. The Mets have won two of their previous three series, which includes a sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lead the NL West.
Alvarez has gotten hot at the right time and provides stability behind the plate. The rookie catcher has three home runs in his last five games and 17 on the season. Plus, in the outfield, Brandon Nimmo continues to get on base with a .365 on-base percentage and has hard-fought at-bats as the leadoff hitter.
Alonso spent time on the injured list but his quick return has helped the Metropolitans. The first baseman leads the team in home runs with 26 and in the top half of the lineup, that power was certainly missed.
For the Mets to make the playoffs, these hitters will have to continue to shine. The starting rotation has not been enough to play playoff-level baseball, which makes Alonso, Nimmo and Alvarez’s recent emergence even more important for the Mets’ potential success.
Why the Mets Will Not Make the Playoffs
The simple answer is the pitching has just not been good enough. When a team signs Verlander and has eight-time All-Star Max Scherzer, the pitching is not supposed to be an issue. This year, it’s been a true problem.
Verlander was hurt to start the season, but once he got to his first start, it was clear the 40-year-old veteran is not the same pitcher he was a year ago. Verlander is 3-4 with a 3.60 ERA, while Scherzer is 8-3 but with a 4.31 ERA. None of those figures are the jaw-dropping numbers that Mets fans expected from the two aces.
The bullpen has also raised questions with the loss of Diaz. With David Robertson and Adam Ottavino going back and forth in late game situations, there is no true stability from the relievers. New York has the 10th-worst bullpen ERA in Major League Baseball. When the starters suffer and don’t go deep into games, the bullpen has not been a true protective blanket.
Pitching wins late in the season. The best teams boast the best pitching staffs. On paper, New York entered 2023 with high expectations from its pitching, but if there’s any part of the team that makes bettors wary of its playoff chances, it’s that particular area. Unless Verlander and Scherzer suddenly become their former selves, it’s tough to see the Mets gaining enough ground to buck their playoff odds and play in October.